Wedding Work

I’ve been photographing weddings for many years, and throughout this time I’ve encountered numerous challenges. Many of them require staying on the move, maintaining good timing, and being hyper-prepared for varying degrees of circumstances. Packing the wrong lens, fumbling with awkward tripod setups, and wrestling with umbrellas can put any photographer in an incredibly stressful situation. The rotation of equipment I employ for weddings has to fit the demanding trifecta of reliability, predictability, and quality, which adds to the whole feeling of preparedness and confidence, enabling me to look for and see lots of opportunities to get a great shot.

These newlyweds plan to keep the photographs I take for the rest of their lives! It’s an integral of their history, and yet I can’t allow the magnitude of this knowledge to distract me from my focus. Despite this pressure (or perhaps because of it) a rush takes hold of me when I’m about to photograph a wedding. Wedding photography is ultimately about working with people, and that’s precisely why this endeavor is such a challenge AND a reward.

Generally I’m slow to rotate new equipment on a wedding shoot. Dependability ranks too high on my list; however, I knew SaberStrip’s construction well and had used it in many other venues, so the risk involved was, of course, lessened. Not only did I trust my own design to fit these criteria, but I also felt that it was of particular use for the upcoming photographs in this blog…

The beach wedding posed some significant challenges because twilight dissolves so quickly. It was cloudless evening, so there would be nothing in the sky to reflect the light once the earth turned away from the sun. I had a really small window to set up the shoot with the whole family and then whittle them down to just the bride and groom – which, I’ve found, is a pretty efficient technique to get the job done. Using the sailor’s method of one finger equals 15 minutes – between the receding sun and land – as a frame of reference, I timed the entire shoot with the end photograph in mind. Shelly and Bob stood alone in front of the fading sun, smiling for the final photograph at the precise time I’d planned. This shot was the reason they selected a beach location at twilight, and I wanted to deliver a beautifully lit image that they would treasure.

With no worries about harsh light affecting the feel of the images, I was able to stay comfortably in control of my shots. The SaberStrips helped a lot because they are such fast and dynamic tools, and they don’t necessarily require sandbags or light stands. In fact, I left those lighting accessories home in favor of a more relaxed, organic approach, enabling me to focus more on communicating with the wedding party (instead of setting up light stands in the sand – invariably a graceless endeavor). The light from the SaberStrip is soft and expansive enough so that someone can simply hold the modifier in whichever direction necessary. Because it is a strip light I have more control of the shadows (by changing the orientation from vertical to horizontal).

I had a couple of the guys from the family hold the strips in an L-shape for these final shots. The SaberStrip’s light overpowered the ambient exposure enough to bring the newlyweds to the fore with an even exposure. As the color temperature of the sky rapidly changed I quickly opened the SaberStrips and added CTO gel to each of the speedlights, rendering the sky a beautiful blue with just a splinter of the sun remaining on the horizon for the last image.

My next shoot took me to Las Vegas with another set of happy newlyweds. The small Vegas chapel behind them did not allow photographers to shoot inside or on the grounds so I used a combination of available light outside to build a composition, using the SaberStrips in the same basic L-shape to shape the light.

We had only an hour with the limo for the entire event, so it was really important to get in and out. I flew to Vegas with a golf case full of SaberStrips and stands. After the ceremony I pulled out the SaberStrip’s flashes, already inside and powered up. I threw them up on stands, got the images, then rushed off to the next location. It was kind of like being in an episode of Beat The Clock, except with more liabilities.

Here they are in front of the Las Vegas sky line. As shown, two units provided enough light to make the couple look center-staged, cinematically defined amid a profusion of city lights behind them. Mr. and Mrs Arnow wanted something Vegas-y without letting things get too overwhelmingly kitsch (since these photographs are going to be around for all of posterity). Rob had the forethought to book a strip facing room with a balcony precisely for this image. This was a “backup plan” in case we couldn’t get a good shot at the ceremony due the chapel’s photography policy. The ability to put the SaberStrips right in the doorway and very close to the couple allowed me to frame the shot right over the small balcony looking over the Vegas skyline.

The couples in this post had very specific visions of what they wanted for their wedding images. Using the Saberstrips made it much easier to not compromise that vision despite many challenges that are often faced by myself and other photographers. Not having to sacrifice quality due to a lack of time and space as well as the ability to deliver reliably beautiful light is part of the whole philosophy behind my ambition to create SaberStrip – that, and of course getting another happy referral.

In future blogs you will glimpse into the aperture of different worlds, from the pristine surfaces of high-end professional fashion photographers, to some really promising amateur photographers who each found the SaberStrip to be versatile enough price-wise and design-wise to make it an enduring part of their kit.

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